A few years ago, it was unthinkable to imagine factories where machines not only produced goods but, through sensors and advanced systems, collaborated and interconnected with each other without human intervention, thinking and learning to optimise processes, reduce costs, and minimise waste. However, what seemed like science fiction yesterday is now a reality in many organisations thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data, machine learning, blockchain, and robotics, among other advanced digital technologies.

This new paradigm, known as Industry 4.0, is redefining production and manufacturing within companies in a continuous quest for greater efficiency, profitability, and competitiveness.

According to a report by the consulting firm IDC, global spending by companies on digital transformation will reach $3.9 billion by 2027, with an annual growth rate of 16.1%.

These statistics indicate that companies are increasingly recognising the importance of embracing Industry 4.0 to harness the power of digital processing and limitless connectivity.

The Fourth Revolution

The impact that Industry 4.0 has had on organisations is so significant that experts call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution

What is the difference compared to the previous ones? In the First Industrial Revolution, at the end of the 18th century, the change was driven by the advent of the steam engine.

In the Second, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the novelty was the onset of mass production and the widespread adoption of electric power.

And in the Third, at the end of the 20th century, the impact came with the arrival of the personal computer and the popularisation of the Internet.

In contrast, the Fourth Industrial Revolution we are experiencing today is characterised by the convergence of digital, physical, and biological technologies.

This revolution, which began at the start of this century, is marked by the interconnection of devices and systems through the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, among other technologies that are changing the way we work, produce, and interact.

Factories of the Future

The benefits that Industry 4.0 offers companies are numerous. Firstly, tools such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and data analytics help improve operational efficiency, productivity, and decision-making.

They enable comprehensive tracking of the supply chain, offering more traceability and transparency, facilitating the anticipation of problems, and making quick adjustments when something does not go as planned.

They also enhance customer experience through the production of customised products and increasingly personalised service.

Furthermore, technology enables cost reduction by efficiently using resources such as energy, materials, and working time.

By digitising production processes, companies achieve greater sustainability, reduce material waste, optimise energy use, and decrease their carbon footprint.

In short, companies not only improve their competitiveness but also prepare to face future challenges with innovative and efficient solutions.

An Example of Innovation

The transformation is happening across all sectors of the economy, driven by the decision of many companies to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0 to make their operations smarter and more efficient, achieving new levels of excellence.

The case of the Spanish company Patatas Meléndez is a concrete example that demonstrates how the proper implementation of emerging technologies can lead to satisfactory results.

This company, which produces 20% of Spain's potatoes, faced the challenge of building a modern plant with Industry 4.0 functionalities.

To achieve this, they chose RISE with SAP, along with modules for production, materials management, sales and distribution, cost accounting, product costing, and logistics management.

They were supported by SEIDOR, SAP's technology partner and a member of United VARs, who led the project from start to successful implementation.

"We licensed SAP DataSphere and SAP Analytics Cloud, in a project to connect not only the SAP database but also the different MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), to have all the information, all the Big Data generated in the new plant in a single environment where data can be analysed instantly," explained Sergio Calvo, CIO of the company

Following the implementation, Patatas Meléndez has achieved significant benefits, such as increased manufacturing speed, improved final product quality control, and the ability to make real-time decisions (see more information about this success story in this link).

Towards an Intelligent Business Model

Companies that have already embarked on the path to Industry 4.0 are reaping the rewards in the form of cost savings, productivity increases, quality improvements, and greater global competitiveness. This revolution not only involves a profound transformation of factories and value chains but also a cultural shift within organisations and a workforce prepared for the jobs of the future.

Other obstacles, such as budget limitations, the threat of cyber-attacks, or equipment obsolescence, may arise along the way. However, despite the challenges, Industry 4.0 is the future, and the transformation is irreversible. Organisations that embrace these technologies with an open and proactive mindset will be better prepared to thrive in this new digital era.

About United VARs

United VARs is a global alliance of SAP implementation partners and solution providers for the mid-market. With over 70 members in 100 countries, the alliance serves all types of SAP rollouts and integrations across the world. The organization provides businesses with local expertise ‘on the ground’ charged at local rates. All United VARs members work together as one team to provide a more personalized service than other global systems integrators can, and one that is better suited to mid-market budgets.


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